There was a Brown Creeper in the garden the other day, only my second for the yard list. It was the day’s highlight really, the snow, always so much heavier out our way, has made getting around the pits no joy. That, and the cold, strong and biting wind meant that for the past few visits I have resorted to hawk watching from a sheltered spot. The results were a big zero but, never mind, it can’t always be wow.
In around 1980 I took out a subscription to the British Birds magazine (BB), a monthly periodical with something for everyone. Over the years the collection has grown, until I had every issue from 1951 through 2009, when I finally saw sense and let it lapse. Each magazine is still worth a read, even if only to remember how the birding was then. Now that we are preparing the way for a move, I decided that I needed to do some radical cleaning, starting with BB.
I kept the rarity reports and I kept the odd issue that I might want as reference but otherwise the lot are in the recycle bin. It was hard to do, dipping in to various notes and articles I enjoyed the first time around. The Chalice Petrel was one of the gripping yarns, an all dark petrel seen on a pelagic off Cornwall, the identification never quite resolved as far as I remember. Then there were many notes on cloaca pecking by Eurasian Coots, I might not miss that one quite so much, even though my old friend Steve Boot was the author.
In the clean sweep went a number of bird books too, things that seemed a good idea at the time but now just shelf-hoggers. As we move inexorably towards the digital book, more will follow no doubt but it will again be hard to perform the task. I think I got the book and periodical count to just below the thousand so I’m quite pleased.
With the arrival of the snow I was also pondering on what winter might bring, especially where my fading ABA year list is concerned. I’m still missing Bohemian Waxwing but hopeful. Over the years they have been fairly common, especially in the Hudson area, and the finch report for this winter suggested that some will come, I’ll just have to keep checking those berry bushes.
Less likely is an arrival of Great Grey Owls. It was only two years ago that we were graced by a decent eruption, in theory there will be three to five more years to wait. One of the birds below was local to St-Lazare, we found it on the Hudson CBC. I suppose I could get lucky and see all six of the regular eastern owls that I’m missing before the end of the year, but recently the willingness of finders to share has reached rock-bottom, thanks to disrespectful behaviour by people who could do better.
My start of year target was 500 in the ABA region, I’m 477 now and won’t be too disappointed if I declare on 480, a nice round figure.
One last thing. Some years ago I damaged the thread on my Nikon ED 50mm travel scope. I was a bit careless while climbing a tower in Ecuador and the helicoil, a spring-steel, hardened insert that goes in the plate the allows you to mount the scope to a tripod, pulled partially out. I did a running repair then, once home, I used No More Nails to do a better repair, gluing the plate to the tripod head snap-plate. After changing tripods recently I wanted to buy a new plate for the scope, held in with four screw, so I contacted Nikon service.
I have three Nikon birding products, two spotting scopes and some binoculars for a combined cost of about $3,000CAD. In August of this year I asked Nikon, through their convoluted customer service system, to sell me the part so I could effect the repair. I also told them that I would not be sending the scope anywhere for such a trifling little task that I could do myself in minutes.
The first reply, an automated response, advised me that it would take 24-48 hours to respond. TEN days later I was told that I needed to send more information, viz, my land address. I did this and heard nothing. I went back to their web site and asked again three weeks ago, still nothing. I’ll try again because I’m willing to believe that things do get missed, if not quite lost in the post, but I am more than a little unimpressed with Nikon here. When I contacted Swarovski about their new eyecups on the Swarovision bins just after I bought them, they sent me a little gift package by return including new eyecups. I like my Nikon scopes, optically they are excellent, but you don’t need to be a market researcher to know where I will look if I ever need to consider a replacement, do you?